Monday, January 10, 2011

A Day With Tom b. !

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Quite some time back a fellow blogger's tip (Thanks Laurie !) led me to the blogspot blog Tom b. Photography, where I first discovered the fabulous photography and reporting that Tom B. has been doing on abandoned buildings, graveyards, and other miscellaneous material that catches his eye across North America. Back in April 2010 Tom moved his blog to the Tumblr platform, so his active site where new and simply excellent material is going up regularly is at Tom b. Photography on Tumblr. If you enjoy abandoned buildings and/or vintage clothing, do drop by Tom's sites and check out his work. I was mesmerized from day one.
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While in the USA last September I had the really good luck to be able to meet Tom, and spend the better part of a day on a photo expedition with him. The exact location of where we went that day is of no importance here, it was a pair of abandoned industrial factories somewhere in North America. Just a few days after that trip with Tom, I came across a tombstone in a cemetery for someone named Tomb. Needless to say I sent a copy of the photo to Tom b.
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I've never met anyone who was as totally concentrated on, and as physically involved in their photography as Tom is. The incredible results he obtains are the direct result of the intense energy he puts into his shooting. I had the impression I was accompanying a professional athlete, a professional in every sense. He does considerable research on the sites he chooses to visit; many of the pieces on his blog go into great detail about the history of the buildings. But once he gets on site, he and the camera become one, seeking the perfect image.
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We thought it was mighty kind of the owners to set out a settee for visitors to repose on should a rest be needed. Tom looks right at home, don't you think ?
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One last shot, heading down a demolished staircase, out of there ! Thanks so much Tom ! It was a rare privilege to be able to spend that day with you !
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While we traipsed around like ghosts haunting the place with our presence, Tom also took a few photos of me at work, which he kindly sent to me later.
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I always wanted to be a truck driver !
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One of my favorite subjects that day was a flattened bicycle on the floor, which had obviously been driven over more than once by heavy vehicles, reducing it to a two dimensional shadow of its former self. More on that later. Tom caught me in the act.
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52 comments:

T. Becque said...

This is a great post! So intersting to see another photographer recording another photographer at work! I'll have to check out his site.

The Sagittarian said...

How fabulous, and you're a truckie, how wonderful.

Lobve the couch photo, maybe you are starting a trend??

Steve said...

How great to see the artists at work... the process is plainly a work of art in itself.

mythopolis said...

I think Tom's work is fantastic. The 'hospital' series gave me goosebumps. His graphic work is equally impressive! Nice post! These shots of your excursion together made me want to jump in the car and adventure off into places of desolation!

Carla said...

HI Owen, I see what you mean about Tom he really put his body into.. Amazing so committed. Great pics. Carla

Carla said...

HI Owen, I see what you mean about Tom he really put his body into.. Amazing so committed. Great pics. Carla

Alistair said...

Great photos as usual Owen. Interesting to see photographers caught in the act.

There's always a sofa lying around somewhere eh?

cheers.

Stickup Artist said...

Dear Owen, what an inspiring post! It makes me want to follow in your footsteps. Funny how something that once seemed so important and vital is now long forgotten. Like children with their toys! I think your idea to shoot the photographer in action makes a fabulous subject. One I have never seen explored before. The portrait of Tom on the old sofa is excellent in contrast to all the animated shots. I hope he has a copy! He's looks like a very relaxed guy after the intensity you caught of him in action. Beautiful series, great stories and memories captured and conveyed.

Lorrene said...

A tombstone with a family name of Tomb. Were they named after the tombstone or was the tombstone named after them. Kind of a clever little name to have when you get buried. All the photo's are great.
I am impressed with your knack for finding the couches.

ρομπερτ said...

First impression that came to me mind, was of a 'doctor', involved in an operation.

Interesting to see another sofa, there might be a deeper story behind all of them (hope you found mine as well).

Please have you all a good Tuesday.


daily athens

Catherine said...

Two intrepid photographers caught in the act - love that sofa shot it certainly seems his milieu as does that truck shot - it is quite rare to see photographers in the act so to speak - and how cool to actually meet other bloggers - you seem to do that quite frequently?? I am just getting to know Mexico City bloggers here in person - always cool people!!

Nevine said...

Yes, Tom certainly looks intense, Owen. He seems so focused on what he's doing, he's oblivious to anything but the moment he's trying to trap. And you always wanted to be a truck driver? What man didn't, at some point in his life? It seems men have a fascination with trucks, and will spare anything for a few moments behind the wheel of one of those beasts.

But really, you guys look like you had a wonderful day together. Nothing better than two coming together to share a few hours with their hobby in tow.

Thank you for always bringing us a sliver of your world, Owen. And... such slivers you share! I am never ever disappointed! :-)

Nevine

Nevine said...

Oh my! You are up late, Owen. Or is that up early? I just left your site for mine only to find you had just visited me. Let us pretend, then, that we had a coffee or tea and exchanged a few stories. :-)

Wishing you a lovely Tuesday, Owen!

Nevine

Owen said...

:-)

James said...

Great collection of shots. It looks like a really fun time.
I really hope I make it to that place before it's destroyed. It's like a playground for photographers. It's nice to see people let it all hang out when they take pictures. That's something that I find myself doing more and more.

I did see your comment at S.S. but I ended up looking at your picture then reading and looking at several more of your old posts until way past my bed time. :) I also saw another (reflection) photo that you did that looks like one I did later. You gave me the link to that one a while ago.
I'm happy to folow in your photo foot steps.

James said...

Ha, I just saw that I'm not the only one here that wouldn't mind following in your footsteps. :)

Tom Bejgrowicz said...

[blushes] It was great finally meeting you and sharing a little of my exploration world with you, my friend. Cheers to Owen, everyone!

Olga said...

It is fascinating! I always thought that finding unexpected beauty in commercial dead zones is the most interesting thing. But be careful out there.

distracted by shiny objects said...

What fun for you guys!! That must be one room in Man Heaven :>)

Pastelle said...

Quand deux passionnés se rencontrent, que se passe t-il ?
Des images passionnantes !
Merci pour les photos de Tom b. totalement concentré dans son monde, merci pour l'histoire, merci pour le partage.
Et puis mon petit côté voyeur est content aussi, ravie de vous voir tous les deux ! ;)

...louciao... said...

Photographer yoga leading to karmic bliss. What more could one ask for? A truck and a sofa, apparently.

Fascinating to see the "focus" of artists in action...the concentrated stillness.

tattytiara said...

Oh fun post - I do always love watching photographers contort their bodies around a line of sight.

Owen said...

Hi T.,
Thanks so much... imho he is a gifted photographer with an innate sense of what makes a strong image... and then he works intensely to make it happen... a fine combination. Hope you enjoyed his sites...

Owen said...

Dear Saj, in fact there may be far more homeless sofas on the streets than anyone previously imagined ! Keep an eye out for them...
:-)

(and always carry a container of industrial grade disinfectant with you, in case you want to try sitting on any of them... or if you are thinking of bringing one home with you... they make great lawn ornaments !)

Owen said...

Hey Steve, it's sort of like one of those films about how another film was made...

You could do the same thing by taking a few night photos of visitors to the outside of your building... using one of those animal trap cameras, that takes pictures when set off by sounds or by a photo-beam being broken. I'm sure you could get some fascinating photos to share with us...
:-)

Owen said...

Mythop, he is good...

And if this in any small way inspires you to get out and check out some of the abandoned properties that must be around your area, so much the better, it is always a fascinating experience... go for it !

Owen said...

Hi Carla,
Many thanks ! ... yes, most certainly, he is extremely involved in the environments he explores... a rare pleasure to see him at work...

Owen said...

Alistair, I think there must be a factory somewhere churning out sofas to be abandoned... or maybe they just spontaneously appear there... I don't know. Could be a trend though. Some further research is needed by the blogging community. With all the day of the week photo memes, maybe someone could start a Sunday Sofa theme...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Stick Up, you are more than welcome not only to follow in footsteps, but to walk right alongside, if you like, to visit some marvellous abandoned property somewhere. The attraction of the abandoned is strong for a certain strata of photographers, and some of the work they are producing imho is just mind bogglingly good... take a look at the Opacity site, for example, or any of the other UrbEx, Urban Exploration sites which can be found on the web. In Tom b.'s blogspot blog, follow the link to Mark's site on Flickr; which in turn links through to other Flickr groups where there are literally thousands and thousands of sites explored and photos... treasure troves to a junkie like me...
:-)
Thanks in any case for you ever so kind comments. I do hope we'll be able to meet up somewhere, sometime... you'll have to twist Sgt T's arm to into believing that your future happiness depends on a trip to Paris...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Lorrene,
The knack of finding castaway couches is an exttremely rare gift which I was handed at birth, and the gene which compels me to photograph them is an even more rare asset, so rare that scientists world wide are still trying to identify it. I keep running from them when they come after me with scalpels saying they need tissue samples...
:-)

I'm very happy if you are enjoying some of these ramblings here...

Owen said...

Robert, one could easily see Tom as a highly skilled surgeon, in fact, you can see in one of the photos here he is getting ready to put on his blue surgeons gloves before operating !
Thank you sir, and a fine end of the week to you...

Owen said...

Hi Catherine,
That sofa appeared at just the right moment when we needed a little break...

And indeed, indeed, I've been very lucky to date to be able to meet a few fellow bloggers, where there is a will, there's a way, although finding time is not always easy these days... But each time the meetings have been fascinating and fun, I'm beginning to think that bloggers are a rare and wonderful kind of human... based on only a small number of data of course...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Nevine !
Funny how we crossed paths in the night like that... in fact I was up late, but that is often the case as I work a late night job, and sleep in the morning, after a bit of dinner and blogging to unwind of course... although tea with you would be fine too !

For sure, it was absolutely wonderful to get to meet Tom and go on an adventure with him, sort of a male bonding day kind of thing I guess. I don't know how many members of the fairer sex would want to come along on such a mission, with all the inherent risks and grime and grease and all manner of pitfalls to beware, but I can honestly say it was one of the very finest days I've had in years... up in the top ten anyway... and Tom was simply excellent company. I can't believe how much he knows about these places...

So, drop by for tea or coffee anytime, I'm often up at this hour...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi James,
Well I hope you can get up to see these places before they get razed, that is always the risk, that an abandoned site becomes a bulldozed site. Over in Delaware County there was a sprawling state mental hospital site at Haverford which was sitting abandoned for years, but in September when I was back I saw where all the old buildings are gone, and houses are going up. Not sure I'd want one of those houses. A lot of history there.

You can see more photos of the sites touched on here if you go through Tom b.'s blogspot blog and linking to Mark Kyle's Flickr pages. And I'll be posting more soon too. They may whet your appetite some more...

Glad you liked the Invisible Man photo from Philly, I'm sure it's the same guy !
:-)

Owen said...

Hey Tom, there you are ! I was wondering what that red glow on the western horizon was, at first I thought it was just the night lights of Paris on the horizon, but now I see it was you blushing...

Someday I sincerely hope to be able to thank you more properly. It was a great day. And the coal breaker was a total trip as well... so very simply, thanks again...

Owen said...

Hi Olga,
Commercial dead zones, as you say, are thoroughly fascinating to me, they offer telling commentary on where our society is heading. And you are right, considerable care must be taken on every level when visiting such places... they are often full of pitfalls. And a few ghosts as well...

Owen said...

Dear Distracted, Absolutely ! Man Heaven ! That's exactly it...

Owen said...

Chère Pastelle,
Tu as osé regardé pendant que nous étions en plein dans notre rite de male bonding ?? (noter que j'ai bien dit bonding et non pas bondage)
:-)
Ah ces voyeurs et voyeuses qu'il y a dans ce monde...
:-)
Non, toute betise à part, suis content si ce petit reportage t'a plu, si cela t'a donné une vision sur la vie et travail de certains photographes passionnés par les bâtiments en ruine. Si tu connais des sites ici en France, n'hésites pas à me les signaler...

En esperant que mon français écrit est moins mauvais et rigolo que ce qui se passe à travers le traducteur...
:-)

Owen said...

Lynne,
Yes, yes, karmic, truckmic, sofamic bliss, even crushed bicyclic bliss, absolutely, one must meditate long and hard on the abandoned riches of industrial society, sprawled out there in in all their glory... oh yes, but there will be more pictures to come to assist with such meditations, and I just know the ravenous hordes of blog readers are champing at the bits for those images to be published, I'm going to have to go underground soon there were papparazzi hanging out in my street last night, and the site meter has been spinning right off the the scales...
:-)
Oh, herrrumph, said the toad, galumphing off, must have been dreaming again...

Owen said...

Hi Tatty, he is a bit of a contortionist, yes ? In any case, a most strenuous approach... but it is so totally important to establish a solid, strong base for the camera, to avoid any body movement that could contribute to blurring the image, and Tom makes it look so graceful...

Alberto Oliver said...

Hey !! a new specie has born,, Photo Sapiens, a creature who feeds on light and stills and whose representative tool wont be the wheel or a bone, but a top edge reflex equipment attached to the arms of the individual but also with interaction with his brain. and able to realize the most unbelievable contorsions in order to achieve his pray, or what is the same, the subject of his phot interest!!
It will be interesting to see and follow the evolution of such outstanding creature =) =)
Regards amazing Owen !!
=D
Oh!! and thanks for all the wonderful thoughts and wishes!!

:: Karine :: said...

bonjour mon owen adoré !

me pardonneras-tu de venir si tard pour t'embrasser en cette nouvelle année ?

je suis au ralenti pour tout en ce moment, je me prélasse et je prends le temps pour tout mais je ne t'oublie pas ni même les mots si tendres que tu m'as écris.

merci pour cette rencontre avec tom b (presque le mot "tombe" en français, celles que tu photographie toujours avec délicatesse) !
ma préférée est celle où il est assis généreusement sur le canapé, elle me convient parfaitement :-)
se lover dans un canapé, bien au chaud avec mon fils au creux de mes bras et mon chat carat !
le bonheur quoi !

merveilleuse année owen

Scotty Graham said...

Owen....I don't get the time, often, to visit blogs, but after all your comments in my blog, I to make a visit. I LOVE this post...AND what a cool place to shoot in..I too, would have gone crazy there...

Anyway...very nice photos you have here. We have a lot in common, both expats living in our host country for 17 years!!

Cheers,

Scotty

Roxana said...

this is indeed a very good series, and i can imagine you also had a lot of fun during that day, not only intense work work work :-)
Tom is indeed fabulous, i have just come back from his page and i am very impressed, thank you for another great discovery...

Owen said...

Alberto,
You are very welcome my friend ! And "Photo Sapiens" what an excellent idea... I like it. Although thanks to you, I've just discovered that there is a web site called photosapiens.com, dedicated to photographers and photography. Will have to look more at it... but yes indeed, I'm sure photo sapiens is a separate species, and is following an evolutionary path toward having a digital sensor in our brains, and a USB plug just behind the ear, so we can take a picture of anything we look at, and then download them to a machine... yes, that would be great, right ? The human eye is still far better than most camera lenses, except the really extreme ones which let a satellite read a license plate from way up above the earth...

Be well...

Owen said...

Bonjour Karine,
Of course je te pardonnerai, toujours, toujours !
:-)
J'imagine que tu as plein de projets, et c'est sûr, ce n'est pas toujours facile pour trouver le temps de tout faire, et le blog ça prend du temps... mais pour ton blog, j'aurai toujours le temps.

Je te souhaite une année 2011 fabuleuse, avec une multitude de choses qui travaillent toutes ensemble pour t'apporter que du bonheur... sur le canapé...

Bisoux !

Owen said...

Hi Scotty !
A big pleasure indeed to hear from you, really appreciate you reaching out here... I know how hard it is to make time for blogging. And I can see you are a very busy guy with a ton of irons in the fire, so I doubly appreciate your visit. I really admire your work, I've looked through quite a bit of the past posts, and still have more to go, but am really just stunned by many many of your images. Great stuff !

Best wishes to you (and your lovely family, another thing we have in common it seems is we both have two daughters with our foreign wives) for an excellent 2011, rich in photos, rich in life..

Owen said...

Roxana...
We had tons of fun, can't tell you how much I enjoyed talking with him... a pleasure from start to finish, we were really laughing a lot it seems to me out of the pure joy of discovery and thrills... More photos to come from that day...

Hugs to you Roxana, loved your last post there, so dark and towering and brooding... pure poetry in visions.

Dee Newman said...

Great post, Owen!

Sar@h said...

Je propose que la Photographie soit inscrite dans les disciplines Olympiques !

Quelle gymnastique pour un cadrage ! Je ne fais pas mieux … M'accroupir ça va … mais grimper, c'est parfois périlleux (enfin quand je réalise que je dois redescendre !)

J'aime bien celle dans le camion … On y retrouve le sourire de l'enfance ;-)

Ai-je souhaité une bonne année ? Dans la négative, Happy New Year 2011 ainsi qu'au Femme Club !

me said...

Hello to ToMB

Peter said...

So, you are not the only one looking for and loving these odd old things! Nice to see you both at "work"!
(The picture of Tom on the sofa - which actually looks fairly OK - is really great!) :-)